This weekend I feel like I’ve finally got this year’s gardening project under control. Last month, I started my gardening year as I always do: overly ambitious, and with a clear leaning towards veg not ideally suited for the UK climate: aubergine, peppers, tomatoes, chillies … with a few nods to chilly Britain in the form of cabbage, beetroot, potatoes and beans.
But maybe I’m not overly ambitious at all – I’d rather believe I’m just ambitious. Because so far, I haven’t let anything escape, whither, or die (with the exception of a few cabbage sprouts that got slugged last week). And I’m especially optimistic with the arrival of an early birthday present from my sister: a mini greenhouse!
My 2012 Gardening Setup
I have a large garden, but most of it’s grass, and the actual space for growing stuff is pretty small. Also, I rent so I can’t really do much about that.
That said, I’m working with a small raised bed and a bunch of containers of various sizes. To help things along, I’ve now got the greenhouse, which I’m totally in love with. I set it up this weekend and the temperature difference is noticeable. It’s like a little warm cozy den. I almost want to put a chair in there and hang out in it.
The greenhouse has also inspired me to resurrected my DIY polytunnel for the raised bed. Mediterranean veg will be mine.
What I’m Growing
Or at least trying to grow. The list:
- ‘Gold Medal’ Bicolour
- ‘Costoluto Genovese’ Tall Vine
- ‘Latah’ Very Early Red
- Moneymaker (good ol’ reliable)
- Brazilian Oval Orange
- Rosa Bianca
- Casper White
(I also tried “Striped Rose” and “Thai Yellow Egg” but those seeds fail to germinate.)
- Orange Habanero
- Canario Rocoto
- Pimienta Da Neude
- Yellow Trinidad 7 Pot
- Oregano (thanks, Carl!)
- Tarragon (thanks again, Carl!)
- Cucumber (‘Paris Pickling’)
- Bell peppers
- Perpetual Spinach
- Sugar baby watermelon
- Lettuce (thanks, Carla!)
Something I really like about this year’s garden is that it’s had so much input and inspiration from other people.
My sister gave me a mountain of seeds, including heirloom varieties of eggplant and tomatillo. Dan, who I met via Rachel through a Mexican cookery class at The Vegetarian Cookery School, sent me a heap of crazy chilli seeds to grow. Carl Legge has sent me oregano and tarragon from his own garden to continue growing here. And Carla Tomasi has sent me some fabulous summer and winter lettuce seed mixes which I fully intend to go to town with in the greenhouse.
How it’s all going
I’ve started most plants indoors and I seem to have covered almost every available windowsill with plant pots. The tomatillos and tomatoes are reaching for the sky. The aubergines are tiny, but show promise – today I thinned out these sprouts and planted them in bigger pots:
The salad seeds from Carla have exploded into life:
The beetroot is looking pretty puny so far. I hope my installation of the DIY polytunnel will encourage them along:
Something is definitely eating my radishes:
Whatever it is doesn’t have the same taste in perpetual spinach. Here are some new sprouts, alongside what remains of last year’s spinach crop:
And there’s something about this cabbage sprout that makes me smile:
I’m fairly amazed that I’m already seeing French beans appear:
And I’m a sucker for a gimmick. I bought a “grafted” bell pepper plant at Dobbies yesterday:
The pepper was a splurge. And I should point out one of my goals with this whole gardening stuff:
I need to save money this year, not spend. And it would help me greatly if I could offset some of my grocery store spending with goodies from my own garden. This is where I’m hoping the greenhouse will really help. Even if I only filled it with lettuces and herbs, that would save me so much money. The trick will be keeping it producing on an ongoing basis, and producing ENOUGH food at that.
As a mostly vegetarian, I eat a ridiculous amount of vegetables. I especially seem to spend lots on salad and herbs. So one of my goals for this year’s garden was to grow a LOT of leafy veg, and to spend only where necessary.
So far I’ve managed to spend less than £20 – enough to buy some seed potatoes, salad seeds, the plastic cover for the polytunnel, some manure and of course, the vanity pepper. I’ve resisted the urge to impulse-buy pretty pots and “fun”-sounding seeds, opting to work with the seeds I have leftover from last year.
As far as growing enough lettuce to feed myself, well, I’m realising just how much space it would take to actually make that happen. I mean let’s face it, I could eat way more than this single pot of lettuce in one sitting:
But I’m going to go for it, which might mean getting clever with containers. To that end, this guy’s vertical garden is truly inspiring.
More pics of my garden progress on Flickr: Gardening 2012.